A NATION OF PARADOX © David Watts 11/08/2003

Canada is a country that defies definition.

We have no one language, culture, religion, unifying geography or view of our history.

We have adopted strange bedfellows that appear almost as polar opposites:

We were the first state to combine a parliamentary system and federalism.

We added to the dichotomy in adopting a Charter of Rights with a legislative override.

Our 1867 Constitution, which gave us federalism, made one province a distinct society.

That distinctiveness spread until we had Canada-wide bilingualism and multiculturalism.

Accommodating distinct societies such as Quebec and Newfoundland is a national trait.

It has led to policies such as “conscription if necessary, but no necessarily conscription.”

It has spawned and fostered socialist provincial governments in five of our ten provinces.

To those who seek bold outlines and clearcut borders, it seems our country does not exist. Some of them predict our disappearance, others warn we are sleepwalking to disaster.

Yet we have not fallen off the edge because Earth has no edges.

Instead we have traced a way to a new type of nationhood.

The very features that appear as liabilities in a world of nation states are becoming assets in the New Age of internationalism.

Our diversity of populations and regions enables us to relate to peoples in the world who are very different from each other.

Our dependence on a superpower helps us understand the economic plight of small states.

Our huge territory and small population give us a sense of living in harmony with nature.

These Canadian characteristics are not contradictions. They are examples of paradox.

What appears as a push-pull between opposites is really the outworking of new possibilities when we move from a linear to a multi-dimensional view.

Living with paradox means moving from an either-or to a both-and perspective.

It means surrendering old stereotypes of French and English, Catholic and Protestant, straight and gay, mail and female, conservative and liberal, capitalist and socialist.

It was only by giving up these bi-polar blinkers that Confederation became possible. This explains why Left and Right has never been a viable basis for Canadian politics.

Wars have been fought to attempt to resolve such differences, yet they cannot be resolved at the level at which they were defined. They can only be transcended at another level.

Canada, a nation of paradox, is a country of promise as Planet Earth evolves into a new awareness of its oneness in a multi-dimensional uni-verse.